Stop thinking and just start talking.
En route to a lunch meeting, walking briskly, you almost bump into a woman headed in your direction. "Excuse me," you say, letting her pass, realizing she's not just a woman, but also a very beautiful one. She's your type: brunette, athletic, light eyes. And now she's in your eyesight. What are you going to do about it?
The synapses start firing, adrenaline is rushing, and your mind is screaming at you. As you negotiate with yourself on whether or not to talk to her, she walks away. Within moments, she's gone forever. You let another one get away, man! Instead of talking to a woman that could potentially change your life, you're standing there alone.
1. Believe that you can get someone to converse with you.
Ready for a cold, hard dose of truth? Starting a conversation is simple. Find someone you want to talk with. Initiate dialogue in a language you both understand. When you're done speaking to your chosen person, patiently wait for them to say their part, and the conversation has started.
When one of the involved parties stops talking, the conversation is over. That completes the technical training on how to start and end a conversation. Simple enough. So why is it so difficult to start conversations?
2. Stop living in fear of rejection.
We often feel we aren't good enough. "Who am I to talk to her?" we say, when we should be saying, "Who am I NOT to talk to her?" You are good enough, but you have to believe it. We have amazing things to offer because we're amazing people. We need to own this, because when we do, we find new conversations are like talking to old friends: effortless and easy.
We need to stop looking at people as strangers; instead, we should view them as a friend we haven't yet met. You see someone as a stranger because a voice in your head tells you so, but really that stranger wants to laugh, cry, and love just like you. Just like me. Deep down, we all want the same things. The people we let slip away are the memories we never make. Fear allows this, but love doesn't.
3. Lead the conversation with honesty.
There's no right or wrong way to go about this when the intent is genuine. Don't think of the perfect thing to say, because making the effort alone was perfect. You tried. You get rejected? So what. That's one less time you'll ever be rejected. Your pride will recover.
In fact, we should be thankful for rejection. That's where we get our growth, wisdom, and confidence. Take a chance. Be silly, be kind, be vulnerable, be funny, but most of all, be something.
4. Get out of your own head.
We view people through a selfish lens, thinking "What can they do for me?" while really we should think of how we can be of service to other people. When we get out of our own heads and think of others, all of a sudden the right things to say come easy to us. Once we're available for other people, we're more available for ourselves and don't have to think of what to say.
5. Realize that every person wants the same thing you do.
So how do you start a conversation? You just do. Every person wants the same thing you want: safety, love, and laughter. Give them that. Give yourself that. You can provide those things because you are those things. Talking to the person and getting rejected is a success. Standing on the corner asking "What if?" is the only possible avenue for failure.